Do we really need 100 delegates and 34 senators to govern West Virginia? So ponders Ron Gregory. Cleary the answer is not only no but hell no.
Ron is right, of course, but not for the reasons he gives; that is, let the governor run the place. It is true that too many cooks will ruin a stew. West Virginia has far too many cooks. They all consider themselves to be a cut above the constituents they represent. Never mind our state constitution says the people we elect are to meet with us to “receive instructions.”
The surest way to kill off progress is to turn it over to a blue ribbon committee. It is rare for even a small committee to get anything done. What about a committee of 134 people with big egos? I was a member of the Marshall business school’s MBA Advisory Board (fancy name for a committee). After over a year and nobody taking any of our advice, we disbanded and no one noticed.
How did Ohio get to be such an industrial powerhouse? For one thing, Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee populated a good part of the state. While Ohio was building using West Virginia resources, West Virginia legislators let our industries slip through their fingers. When I started Friar Chemical, anything chemical was a dirty word and I was a bad boy. The first thing I got from Charleston was a half-inch-thick brown envelope full of forms for taxes. The first thing we got when I helped start a business in Florida was a thank you letter from the governor. The Osceola County sheriff visited us to say thanks and to let him know if there was anything he could do to help us succeed.
Fifty delegates and 17 senators would be a good start for West Virginia. Instead of 55 counties, how about 20? I suggest we add up all the costs to heat, cool and maintain the 55 county seat buildings. Add the cost of 165 commissioners and staff. Do the same for 55 boards of education, 55 sheriff departments, the clerks and all the rest for our 55 counties. It will be enough to choke a horse.
Add total cost of all our colleges and universities (it is never enough). A lot of West Virginia students can’t afford college anymore. With these numbers staring us in the face, we will realize we just can’t afford to be the state’s largest employer. Our country was founded on the premise of small government. West Virginia’s government at all levels is too large.